Ihedioha: House of Reps loss, Imo’s gain?
WITH the current flurry of political activities which has continued to throw up several candidates from the array of federal lawmakers gunning for the various vacant posts across the country, it is now glaring that the National Assembly may suffer a colossal loss as experienced legislators seek and take up higher political responsibilities across the country.
Several federal legislators including the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Sir Emeka Ihedioha under the platform of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) are among some of the lawmakers primed to go into political battle for the governorship of their various states next February.
Consequently, there is no gainsaying the fact that the House of Representatives would be lacking of experienced lawmakers when the Eighth Assembly of the Nigerian parliament is inaugurated in June 2015 either due to loss of tickets by some of the incumbents to re-contest election or due to some of members’ desire to explore other areas of human endeavour.
It is against this backdrop that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal during his address of welcome to his colleagues after the last Christmas break lamented the impending low turnover of members as indicated by outcomes of the various political parties’ primaries.
Tambuwal said the expected exit and eventual low turnover of members was once again an unfortunate loss of experienced contribution to the parliament.
According to him, “the return rate of many legislators after the party primaries was below expectation. The expertise of those who lost primaries to re-contest the House will be greatly missed.”
However, what Tambuwal did not foresee, because he is not a clairvoyant, is that his Deputy and friend of many years in the parliament, Emeka Ihedioha who’s seeking to becoming the next Imo state governor is also primed to join the bandwagon of outgoing lawmakers who will render the House bereft of experienced legislators if elected by his people next month.
Paradoxically, the parliament’s loss of Ihedioha will be gain for the people of Imo state when they bestow on him the mantle of leadership as governor come February 28, 2015. The Deputy Speaker is contesting for governorship of Imo state under the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).
How it began
Ihedioha contested election and won a seat into the House of Representatives representing Aboh Mbaise/Ngor Okpala Federal Constituency of Imo State in 2003 under the platform of the PDP. He is currently serving his third consecutive term in the House of as Deputy Speaker.
His legislative accomplishments: Since his first term, Ihedioha has been prominently positioned in the House. He was chairman of the ranking House Committee on Marine Transport between 2003 and 2007, where he brilliantly co-ordinated legislative oversight functions over Nigeria’s maritime sector. The passage of two key legislations which reformed the maritime industry to allow for increased participation of Nigerians in that sector of the economy is credited to the sterling, committed and determined efforts of Ihedioha. The legislations in question are: the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Act, 2007 and the Merchant Shipping Act, 2005.
He led the way in ensuring that Nigeria complies with International Maritime Organization (IMO) Conventions and that these conventions became part of our Municipal Laws, through their domestications.
It is noteworthy that Ihedioha’s pivotal and timely role perfected the legislation for the domestication of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, which ensured that Nigeria complied with global shipping standards.
Within the period, he also personally sponsored and facilitated the passage into law of the bill that established the Council for Regulation of Freight Forwarding (CRFFN) in Nigeria. This is one of the few legislations sponsored by a legislator that received Presidential assent. This has brought order in the sector and given pride of place to our local operators. After emerging victorious in the 2007 general elections that birthed the Sixth Assembly, Ihedioha served first as chairman, House Committee on Cooperation and Integration in Africa before he was elected Chief Whip of the House. He held that position until the expiration of the Sixth Assembly.
In his capacity as Chief Whip, Ihedioha served as Chairman of various Ad-Hoc Committees of the House, including Chairman, Ad-hoc Committee on Constituency Projects (2007-2008); Chairman, Ad-Hoc Committee on the Celebration of Ten Years of Unhindered Legislative Practice in Nigeria (1999-2009); Chairman, Ad-hoc Committee on Process and Procedure for Obtaining Local and Foreign Loans through which he was able with his members to standardize the operational procedure for obtaining future foreign and local loans by the Nigerian Government. He was also Chairman, Sub-Committee on the Review of Police Act.
Emergence as deputy Speaker: It was therefore not surprising that on June 6, 2011 Ihedioha was elected unopposed as the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives by his colleagues. The principled stand of the House members is seen as an affirmation of implicit confidence in the leadership credentials o Ihedioha. Since Ihedioha’s popular emergence as the Deputy Speaker, he has continued to provide together with his colleagues inspirational, rancour – free and dynamic leadership in the Green Chamber, displaying tact, dexterity and maturity in the conduct of official business. It is important to observe that the leadership of the 7th House of Representatives has made outstanding contributions to the peace and stability of Nigeria through its legislative interventions in motions, bills and constituency representation. More than that, Ihedioha’s emergence unopposed as Deputy Speaker represents a paradigm shift in the country’s democratic experience. It is therefore hardly surprising that he enjoys the trust and confidence of his colleagues across partisan divide. A man of intellect and accomplishments, Ihedioha has meritoriously held (and continues to hold) important and strategic positions in the House of Representatives and at every turn he has acquitted himself creditably. Apart from the positions earlier mentioned, Ihedioha by virtue of his office as Deputy Speaker currently serves as Chairman of the following Committees of the House, namely:
During the Peoples Public Sessions, Nigerians from all walks of life in the nooks and crannies of the country aired their voices and voted on issues for constitutional amendment. That epoch-making mechanism remains the most inclusive, participatory, transparent and accountable process ever embarked upon in the history of constitution-making in the country. The Peoples Public Sessions is an idea that is built and conceived around the notion that since the people own the constitution, they deserve to be involved in the very process of amending the document; it is a bottom-up approach which availed citizens from the grassroots the opportunity to decide on various contentious issues in the Constitution. In order to demonstrate the transparent and accountable nature of the exercise, the Committee and indeed the House led by Hon. Ihedioha partnered with about twelve independent Organisations and professional bodies to organise and supervise the process.
The organisations are: The Nigerian Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, The Nigerian Bar Association, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Academic Staff Union of Nigeria Universities (ASUU), Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), National Union of Local Government Employees, National Council of Women Societies, National Association of Nigerian Students, Nigerian Youth Council, and Civil Society Organisations. This exercise took place simultaneously in the 360 Federal Constituencies, nationwide on November 10, 2012.
It is to the credit of Rt. Hon. Ihedioha that the Results of the decisions on various issues voted on by people in their various constituencies have not been faulted or questioned by anyone since its publication and presentation to the people. It represents something close to a referendum. His leadership has ensured that the amendments made by the House have been revolutionary and unprecedented.
After several other amendment processes in the House of Representatives, the Committee under Ihedioha’s leadership processed a record 70 clauses of the Constitution for amendment which were eventually passed by the House of Representatives in a transparent vote applauded by Nigerians across board.
Ihedioha as deputy Speaker: On the 6th day of June 2011 Ihedioha was elected unopposed as the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. The principled stand of the House members in that election is seen as an affirmation of the implicit confidence his leadership credentials.
He has since then continued to provide together with his colleagues inspirational, rancour – free and dynamic leadership in the Green Chamber, displaying tact, dexterity and maturity in the conduct of official business.
It is important to observe that the leadership of the 7th House of Representatives has made outstanding contributions to the peace and stability of Nigeria through its legislative interventions in motions, bills and constituency representation. More than that, Ihedioha’s emergence unopposed as Deputy Speaker represents a paradigm shift in the country’s democratic experience. It is therefore not surprising that he enjoys the trust and confidence of his colleagues across partisan divide.
Strategic positions held in the House: Ihedioha has held strategic positions in the House and at every turn he has acquitted himself creditably. By virtue of his office as Deputy Speaker, he currently serves as Chairman of the following Committees of the House, namely:
1. House Ad-Hoc Committee on Legislative Agenda: Rt. Hon Ihedioha was instrumental to one of the most innovative decisions of the new leadership of the House in unveiling on the first day of legislative business a Legislative agenda. This is the legislative compass and mission Statement that guides the operations of the 7th House of Representatives. Ihedioha chairs this Committee, a clearing house on policy for the House that is largely credited with the positive direction and image of the 7th House of Representatives.
2. House Ad-Hoc Committee on Constitution Review: In his capacity as the Deputy Speaker, Ihedioha chairs the House Ad-Hoc Committee on Constitution Review. Under his leadership, the constitution amendment process has progressed remarkably with new innovations to make it a bottom-up exercise that places a premium on the wishes and aspirations of the people. The novel and unprecedented introduction of the Peoples Public Session is an idea that is credited to him.
During the Peoples Public Sessions, Nigerians from all walks of life in the nooks and crannies of the country aired their voices and voted on issues for constitutional amendment.
That mechanism remains the most inclusive, participatory, transparent and accountable process ever embarked upon in the history of constitution-making in the country. The Peoples Public Sessions is an idea that is built and conceived around the notion that since the people own the Constitution, they deserve to be involved in the very process of amending the document; it is a bottom-up approach which availed citizens from the grassroots the opportunity to decide on various contentious issues in the Constitution.
In his sojourn in the House of Representatives especially during the current session, Ihedioha has demonstrated that he is not one to be counted among those who “warmed the bench” in the parliament. He belongs to the group of legislators who have sponsored a number of Bills among other contributions on the floor as at December 18, 2014 when the House adjourned for the Christmas and new year break.
At the home front: Back home, Ihedioha has facilitated several projects in his constituency.
Among them are reactivation and rehabilitation of Uvuru Amawo Water Project, and the Aronta Mbutu Water project, provision of 100pcs classmate computer and V-Sat based internet access with generator in Mbaise Secondary School and Okpala School, construction of Nigerian Immigration Service Center in Aboh Mbaise, completion of Mbutu electricity project. Others are 132 KVA/33 Substation in Aboh Mbaise, 15 MVA Substation 1 x 15 MVA-33/11 KV, erection of 70 poles solar powered street lights in Enyiogugu Airport junction, and at Nwko Mbutu market square, as well as at Okpala junction. He also rehabilitated road projects in Chokoneze-Mbutu-Logara road, among others.